Are joint credit cards a good idea?

A couple using their joint credit card together

Joint bank accounts and joint loans are popular amongst couples who live together and who want to share their finances, but what about joint credit cards?

In this guide, we discuss what to be aware of when putting two names on a credit card, as well as some of the associated risks of doing so.

Can you have a joint credit card?

Joint credit cards allow two users to share a line of credit and both parties are responsible for repaying the debt. 

You can get a joint credit card with another person for all kinds of purchases, including a new car, wedding purchases, day-to-day household goods and more.

Before getting a joint credit card with someone, however, it’s important to be aware of everything that they entail, including the potential drawbacks that may come with having a joint card with someone else.

How do joint credit cards work?

Joint credit cards work in the same way that personal credit cards work. You each get a credit card but it’s under the same joint bank account so any spending will show up on the joint credit card account.

You then have to pay off the credit card debt at the end of every month (or whenever your credit card bill is due) to avoid getting into credit card debt.

As you are both responsible for paying off the credit card, it’s important to only get a joint credit card with someone who you can trust and who you know will be able to pay it off. 

It’s important to note that a joint credit card and adding an authorised user are not the same thing. With a joint credit card, the card is linked to one joint account and both cardholders are legally responsible for paying the debt that is incurred by using the card. 

Adding an authorised user on the other hand involves allowing someone to make purchases with the card, but they’re not legally responsible for any debt they incur. Any debt that is incurred is the sole responsibility of the account owner, not necessarily the person using the card.

Will a joint credit card damage my credit score?

Getting a joint credit card won’t damage your credit score, but failure to make the payments on the joint card will.

Even if you intend to keep up your repayments on the card, but the person who you’re sharing the card with can’t, you will still be responsible for making the payments, even if you didn’t incur the debt.

You might like: What things can affect your credit score?

Who can you share a joint credit card with?

You can open a joint credit card with someone who you trust and with who you want to be in a “financial relationship” with. It’s mostly common for couples to open joint credit cards, but you may wish to share a credit card with a family member or close friend as well.

Should I get a joint credit card?

The decision to get a joint credit card isn’t one that should be taken lightly. While it might seem like a good idea to open a joint account and therefore obtain a joint credit card with someone, such as your partner or spouse, for example, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of doing so before you commit.

The advantages and disadvantages of a joint credit card

Take a look below at some of the pros and cons of having a joint credit card with another person.

Pros

  • Opening a joint account with someone who has a good credit score can help to improve your credit score and providing that you keep up with the credit card payments when they’re due, you can use it to gradually improve your credit score.
  • You can consolidate transactions as a couple and you’ll have fewer household bills to keep track of as your spending will be in one account. It can help couples to simplify their finances and keep track of what each person is spending.
  • Account holders with lower credit scores can gain access to better credit cards with more favourable terms if their account is linked with someone who has a better credit score than them.

Cons

  • Both parties are legally responsible for any debt incurred, even if only one person incurred the debt. This means if a lot of credit card debt racks up and neither party can afford to make the payments, then both cardholders’ credit scores will be affected, even if only one person was spending the money to get them into the mess.
  • If a relationship breaks down, it can be complicated to know what to do with the card, especially if you have to close the account down or figure out how to move forward with the card.
  • A shared bank account and therefore a shared credit card can cause disruptions and issues in a relationship if one person doesn’t agree with how much the other person is spending or what they’re spending it on. As you will both be able to see the credit card transactions, it can lead to disagreements about spending habits, which in turn could lead to further complications in the relationship and could cause further financial issues for you as a couple.

How to find the best joint credit cards

Finding the best joint credit card providers involves undertaking a lot of research to compare quotes from different providers. Once you have a rough idea of what you want from your joint credit card, you can start to compare quotes from the best providers that offer what you’re looking for.

It’s important to note that some providers won’t allow you to apply for a joint credit card with another person, and instead, you may have to open a joint account and then seek advice on how to get a joint credit card for the account.

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